Cravings aren’t all or nothing

Put cravings into context.

Urges aren’t all or nothing.  You might feel like an urge is all-encompassing, but if you stop to think about it, there are a thousand levels of desire between zero and 100.  Put the craving into context.  Do you feel it come in waves?  There will be good days and bad days.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of surviving the moment.  If you’ve been clean a while, are the cravings better and less frequent than they were earlier in your recovery?  You’ll likely find the answer is “yes.”  Maybe the craving oscillate between 100% and 40%, and 40% is more tolerable.  Knowing that will help get you through the 100% days.  Hold onto that.  Recognizing that cravings aren’t black and white make them easier to deal with.

 

Four ways to deal with cravings

running scaredOld Lady Addiction

You’re trying to escape addiction.

That could be food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, smoking, or something else.  One of the biggest challenges you’re dealing with, especially at the beginning of your recovery, are the urges to “feed” the addiction.  You’re bound to have cravings.  It happens to all recovering addicts, and it isn’t easy.  But remember, while the urges can be intense, they diminish with time.  Each minute you resist giving into the addiction, each time you decide not to use, the closer you get to long-term recovery.

Many people cope with their urges by gritting their teeth and “white-knuckling it,” but it doesn’t have to be done that way. You’ll find four urge-busting strategies below.

(Note: links lead to articles from Dr. Rosenthal’s other website.)


Method # 1. Get rid of those triggers.

Triggers jumpstart cravings. Some triggers are obvious, like watching people use drugs, having access to money, or seeing a beer commercial on TV.  Others aren’t so obvious.  Perhaps it’s something you’re hardly aware of, like a vague scent, song on the radio, or a stressful thought that inadvertently makes you want to relapse.

Whatever the case, identify the trigger and fix it.   How?  Here are some specific tips:
new doc 2017-12-07 12.05.32_2⇒ If possible, avoid triggers.  Stay away from places that push you in the wrong direction. Stay clear of addiction-friendly people, or those who make you emotional and more likely to relapse.

⇒ If you know an upcoming event or encounter is a trigger for you, plan ahead to minimize relapse.   How will you deal with the situation or person?  Consider having a support person accompany you, planning an early get away, and preparing catch phrases to use when necessary, even something ludicrous: “No, my shrink said I’d become aggressive and hurt people if I keep using, and I don’t want to hurt you.”

⇒ Sometimes you’ll run across a trigger unexpectedly.  If you find yourself in an unsettling place, leave.  If it’s something on the TV, change the channel. If you can’t leave, reach out to a support person, distract, or run some sort of safety mantra in your head, like “this ain’t gonna happen” or “I’m a recovered alcoholic now.”

⇒ Guard your conversations.  Sharing old drinking tales and other drug war-stories can quickly get you into trouble.

⇒ Guard your thoughts.  Practice mindfulness and meditate to enhance control over your thinking and decrease sensitivity to problem cognitions.  Learn to rewrite negative thoughts or change your perspective.

⇒ Are your cravings running you over like a herd of angry elephants? Take three breaths and move onto one of the strategies below.   Continue reading Four ways to deal with cravings